Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Abuse in a Long-Term Relationship and Recovery

After graduating high school with honors and an outstanding GPA, I did what was expected of me and went off to attend a university. I had a wonderful boyfriend at the time who loved and respected me. Unfortunately, we went to separate schools and the distance proved to be too much for us. Even though I wasn't dating M any more, we kept in regular contact.

It was shortly after ending things with M that I met A. A was a funny, intelligent, and seemed to be a very good friend. Everyone liked him and thought we would make a perfect couple. I was not initially interested, but did eventually agree to go out with him. At first, everything seemed to be wonderful. A soon became jealous of my friendship with M. I saw nothing wrong with maintaining a friendship with M as we had been friends long before our relationship and were still very close. Nothing inappropriate was ever said or done between us while I was with A.

Apparently, A didn't see it that way and made me stop contacting M. He manipulated me into thinking that M was trying to get back with me (we were both in relationships at the time). A threatened to break up with me if I continued "flirting" with M. He informed me that this is why women are raped and that men would stop raping women if we would stop leading them on. When I tried to tell A that nothing like that was going on, he hit me.
Because I had grown up in an abusive household, I knew that the only way to avoid a similar situation was to do as A wanted. I made the biggest mistake of my life by giving up that friendship.

Throughout our two and a half year relationship, A and I were constantly fighting over things that were "my fault." A thought that I was violating our trust every time he didn't know exactly where I was. A was incredibly distrustful of my friendships even with our mutual friends or with other women. I thought nothing of it as my mom had given up her friendships in order to appease my father.

At the end of our first year of college, I discovered I was pregnant. A didn't like using condoms, and I wasn't on the pill yet. He had slipped it off during sex without my knowledge. Of course, the pregnancy was my fault. He insisted that I get an abortion, but because I had the better job, I had to pay for it. As the date of my appointment got closer, I realized that I couldn't go through with it. I wanted to keep the baby, but I didn't know how to tell him. Unfortunately, on a family trip to visit my grandmother,I miscarried. According to A,this was also my fault as I clearly did not do enough to try to keep the baby. I believed him.

Later that summer, he did something that I never imagined he would do. He raped me. It wasn't violent. It wasn't anything like what we are told to expect. I was staying with him for the weekend because I needed to enroll in classes and sort out my financial aid. I was exhausted from working 60 hours that week and recovering from my miscarriage and didn't want to have sex. I told him we could in the morning after I had slept. That wasn't good enough for him because he climbed on top of me and did it anyway. He didn't understand why I was crying. He thought it was hormones from the miscarriage.

His manipulation continued throughout our relationship. I broke contact with several of my friends because there was something "wrong" with our friendship. He didn't like my roommate because she knew he was manipulating me. He didn't like me going to church with her either because then I would develop ideas that were different than his "correct" ones. He was adamantly atheist and would constantly ridicule me for even questioning that there could be something else out there.

A didn't do anything physical to me until the summer after our second year of college. By this time, he had dropped out of school because he "didn't like the environment." He told me that I shouldn't be attending the school because they were "too Christian" and "too closed-minded." We went on a camping trip with his family for his mom's birthday. I was once again exhausted from working 60 hours a week, and sunburned. It hurt when anyone touched me. A wanted sex. I said "no." We had sex anyway. When it was over, he saw I was crying. He apologized for touching my sunburn and went to sleep. I laid there and cried.

Shortly after I started my third year at university, this had become a regular thing. I began to expect to have sex whether I wanted to or not. He was never violent when forcing me to have sex. The most he would do is restrain me when I tried to push him off. For the longest time, I wasn't even sure it was rape. After all, I had sex with him before and enjoyed it. During this time, I was financing his lifestyle and drug habits as well. I had a nice job so I would bring him food or pay his car insurance. It wasn't that I wanted to do it. A told me that I should because my financial situation would allow it.

Last February, everything changed. I was preparing to go to a political conference with some friends from school. I was just starting to discover feminism and developing strong opinions of my own and voicing those opinions. He told me that he did not want me to go because there would be drinking and someone might take advantage of me. I told him that it was something I wanted to do and that he couldn't stop me. He punched me.
I was in shock and didn't know what to do. I waited until after I returned from the conference to break up with him. At the conference, I discovered that he cheated on me several times throughout our relationship and inflicted similar abuse on an ex-girlfriend.

He moved back to his hometown after I ended our relationship. It was hard, and I loved him. It just took me time to realize that I love me more and have to take care of myself.

I soon began talking to M again. After my relationship with A, I wasn't sure I could trust anyone again. I wan't even sure I wanted any sort of relationship at all. M was patient and waited for me to be ready. He listened to me. When I said that I wasn't ready for a sexual relationship yet because of A, he understood. He didn't force it. M talked to me about what had happened and helped me understand that it wasn't my fault. Even when I would fall asleep at his place because I was exhausted after work, he would get me to bed, help me change clothes, and lay there with me. He never pressured me or forced me into anything.

I'm now starting my fourth year of university and am in a loving relationship. M understands that I don't always want sex, always makes sure that I enjoy it, and spends time just talking to me. He is wonderful. M is my best friend and a wonderful boyfriend. He has helped me understand that there are good men in the world who don't abuse or manipulate women. He encourages me to have friends and form my own opinions about the world.

 

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One thought on “Abuse in a Long-Term Relationship and Recovery

  • Laura says:

    The psychological and emotional manipulation is so hard to see when you are stuck in the thick of it.. And leads to such intense emotions that its so hard to know what your feelings are and why…
    I’m so glad you found the strength to leave and move forward in a positive way.. I had a similar situation and as time went on became more and more trapped.. It wears down your energy and confidence so slowly that it ends up being so hard to leave.
    I’m so glad you did, and good on you for having the courage to share your story. I hope other people reading this might find strength in seeing this.
    All the very best
    Xx